Of all the Facebook offices in the world, only Facebook Israel specializes in accelerating local startups.

Underlining that commitment, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently came to Tel Aviv to inaugurate The Playground, Facebook Israel’s new physical space for startups – as well as for communities, nonprofit organizations and businesses.

“Israel is a startup nation, second only to Silicon Valley, with the highest density of startups in the world,” Sandberg said on August 14 as she cut the ribbon on the new facility with Facebook Israel Country Director Adi Soffer Teeni.

“Today I met entrepreneurs who use our services to find customers, hire people and grow their business. They are building communities and creating jobs and turning bold ideas into technologies that change the world. This is what The Playground is all about – building connections, developing skills and fostering innovation.”

A seating area in The Playground in Facebook Israel. Photo: courtesy

Sandberg said The Playground will be a meeting and event space bringing together entrepreneurs, businesses of all sizes, NGOs and communities.

“We expect to reach 15,000 people per year with programs, trainings, office hours, and mentoring. We want the community to consider The Playground as a second home where they can meet and learn,” she said.

A full floor of facilities

The Playground takes up 16,000 square feet — a full floor of Facebook Israel’s six-year-old Rothschild Boulevard office, which houses more than 300 employees dedicated to marketing and sales. Facebook also runs a 200-employee R&D center in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Sarona Tower.

The Playground also encompasses a live studio for video production, a podcast room, a device lab, workshop areas and co-working areas.

Auditorium of The Playground at Facebook Israel. Photo: courtesy

“The Playground will allow us to scale everything we currently do in the Facebook Israeli office,” said Soffer Teeni. “It will create a dedicated space for the Israeli ecosystem, bringing together old and new, traditional and digital; and most importantly, people.”

Facebook Israel’s head of communications, Maayan Sarig, tells ISRAEL21c that The Playground is unique to Israel.

Among its other functions, The Playground is the new address for 13 consumer startups in Facebook Israel’s Startup Growth Program, launched last May.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook Israel Country Director Adi Soffer Teeni cutting the ribbon on The Playground in Tel Aviv. Photo: courtesy

“Our Startup Growth Program supports consumer-centric, post-seed stage startups,” said Soffer Teeni.

“We are building professional tracks, one per domain  — product, marketing, tech, and management — to accelerate the leader of that domain within the startup from someone who has some orientation in product and marketing, to a top-tier professional who can lead the domain from seed to growth stage.”

The 13 startups include:

  • Voom (formerly Skywatch), the world’s first on-demand, usage-based insurance solution for specialized mobility such as drones.
  • Workiz, SaaS-based software that provides scheduling, invoicing, CRM, and reporting solutions to field service management companies.
  • Klever, a shopping app combining fast auctions and deep discounts.
  • Lumen, a device and app that shows you if your body is using fats or carbs for fuel and gives daily personalized meal and workout plans.
  • Venn, transforming urban neighborhoods into shared communities.
  • Rewire, the first innovative international banking platform for migrants working around the world.
  • Maapilim, direct-to-consumer online wellness brand selling handmade, Mediterranean sourced grooming products for men.
  • EquityBee, helping startup employees get the money they need to exercise their stock options before expiration.
  • Shookit,  distribution-tech company offering hyperlocal fulfillment centers for local entrepreneurs selling and delivering consumer products, groceries and parcels.
  • Elementor, a free page builder plugin for WordPress creators.
  • Modli, modest fashion e-marketplace featuring multiple designers.
  • Apps Village, SaaS platform enabling small and medium businesses to create branded mobile apps.
  • Bookaway, an online platform helping users book ground travel services from local transportation suppliers worldwide.

While she was in Israel, Sandberg also visited the local branch of her organization, Lean In, promoting gender equality in the workforce; met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin; and accompanied her parents, Joel and Adelle Sandberg of Florida, as they donated a new ambulance at the Jerusalem national headquarters of United Hatzalah, Israel’s largest all-volunteer EMS organization.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, second from left, at United Hatzalah headquarters in Jerusalem with volunteers Kayla Tzur, Gitty Beer, Rania Abu Shaban and Sassy Simon. Photo: courtesy